One of the nutrients vegan diets can be deficient in is iodine. Iodine is best obtained from sea sources, like seaweed and seafoods, as well as dairy products, eggs, and in fortified sources of bread. Sea vegetables like kelp and seaweed are great sources of iodine, and is the source where fish obtain their iodine from. Back in the day, before we had any kind of food at out disposal, people living in the mid-west, far from the sea, didn't have ample sources of sea veggies or seafood. In addition, the soils in these regions have low levels of iodine. When the body doesn't get enough iodine, it can develop thyroid issues, and can lead to an enlargement of the thyroid, know as a goiter. In fact, the Mid-west was called the goiter belt, due to their low-levels of iodine and high levels of thyroid disease.
The USDA helped to solve this problem by adding iodine to salt, and other fortified products. For those eating whole, unprocessed foods, like me, you avoid foods that tend to be fortified and have a lot of salt. Sea vegetables are BY FAR the best source of iodine in the diet, and in 1 serving, contain 500% of your daily needs. If you're on a plant-based diet, try consuming a sea veggie several times a week. They're also good sources of vitamin C, manganese, and vitamin B2, Vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids) copper, as well as a good source of protein, pantothenic acid, potassium, iron, zinc, vitamin B6, niacin, phosphorus, and vitamin B1.
More info on how iodine deficiency and the history of fortification can be found on the NIH website, click here.
Types of sea veggies:
Kombu-a thicker seaweed, that is often recommended to add when cooking beans. Seaweeds can help people who have issues digesting beans, and diminish the gassy quality they can create. This form can be quite salty naturally. I recommend washing it before adding to the pot
Arame-thread-like seaweed that is often found in seaweed salads. Avoid hijiki, similar to arame, as it has been shown to have high levels of arsenic. You can look for certified organic varieties that state arsenic levels.
Kelp: I love kelp in the form of noodles! They're virtually calorie free, and great raw for a little crunch, or if you pour hot sauces or put into a soup, they'll wilt and taste like a rice noodle. You can get them on Amazon or check them out at your local supermarket.
Nori-commonly sold in sheets, this is what most use to make sushi, as shown below.
For an easy way on how to make your own Summer Veggie Hand Rolls, click here.
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Until next week....happy, healthy eating!